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Cale, John & Band: Live (1983 Zeche Bochum & 1984 Grugahalle Essen)
John Davies Cale was born in 1942 in Wales, UK. Early on he discovered a penchant for the viola and he studied music at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He moved to New York at a young age where he quickly became involved with the music scene. He formed The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed in 1965 and was involved with the band's first two albums, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) and White Light/White Heat (1968). He left the band in 1968 and started a prolific solo career that has included at least thirty albums. Perhaps is most famous and accessible album is the classic Paris 1919 released in 1973. His music has always teetered on the edge of experimental/avant-garde rock but his knack for great melodies should not be understated. He has worked with a great many musicians over the years including Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Chris Spedding and Suzanne Vega and has built a solid reputation as a music producer.
In 1984 Cale was invited to play at the Rockpalast Festival which took place at Grugahalle in Essen, Germany. This concert represents an important slice of history, one which every fan of John Cale will want to have. Besides Cale (lead vocals, piano, guitar) the rest of the band are Dave Young (guitars, vocals), Andy Heermans (bass, vocals) and Dave Lichtenstein (drums).
The concert starts with "Autobiography", a song never released on album before. It is almost like a self-portrait that showcases Cale's rockier side, as do all the songs on the first disc. Cale is in fine form throughout and his vocals, which may be an acquired taste for some, are excellent. I have always liked his voice and he leaves nothing on the table here, pure gut wrenching emotion is what you get. To me his voice is a combination of David Bowie, Joe Strummer (The Clash) and David Byrne (Talking heads) all rolled into one. Other highlights include the smoldering guitar work in the avant-garde rock of "Evidence" and the punky art rock of "Magazines" where dissonant guitar phrasings and his tortured vocal delivery is an emotional roller coaster ride. Perhaps the prettiest performances are reserved for the wonderful "Caribbean Sunset", filled with Cale's melodic piano and impassioned vocals and the poignant "Fear Is A Man's Best Friend" where heartfelt piano leads to a more up-tempo affair. Also included is Cale's disquieting version of Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" and an excellent rendition of The Velvet Underground classic "Waiting For the Man", which is probably the concert's best moment. Also worthy of mention is the one two punch of "Pablo Picasso/Love Me Two Times" where The Doors classic is faithfully brought back to life.
Disc 2 includes Cale's 1983 performance at the Zeche in Bochum, Germany. This is a much more intimate performance with just Cale's guitar, piano and vocals but is no less intriguing. These songs were made for the acoustic treatment they so deservingly receive. Beautiful piano melodies and plaintive guitar strumming abound and Cale's poignant vocal delivery is spot on. Whether it is the beautiful piano melody of "Buffalo Hunt", a song that would fit nicely in Neil Young's catalogue or the lovely acoustic ballad "Amsterdam", there are no duds here. The rollicking piano in "Taking It All Away" and "Guts" is so good I could listen to it all day and Cale's vocals are incredibly emotive.
As I listened to these two concerts it became clear that rock and roll was alive and well and doing fine. One gets the feeling it will never be quite the same again. Thank you Rockpalast for documenting these wonderful performances.
2. Oh La La
5. Model Beirut Recital
6. Streets Of Laredo
7. Dr. Mudd
8. Leaving Up To You
9. Caribbean Sunset
10. The Hunt
11. Fear Is A Man's Best Friend
12. Heartbreak Hotel
13. Paris 1919
14. Waiting For the Man
15. Mercenaries (Ready For War)
16. Pablo Picasso/Love Me Two Times
17. Close Watch
1. Ghost Story
2. Ship Of Fools
3. Leaving It Up To You
5. A Child's Christmas In Wales
6. Buffalo Ballet
7. Antarctica Starts Here
8. Taking It All Away
10. Paris 1919
12. Chinese Envoy
13. Thoughtless Kind
14. Only Time Will Tell
15. Cable Hogue
16. Dead Or Alive
17. Waiting For the Man
18. Heartbreak Hotel
20. Fear Is A Man's Best Friend
21. Close Watch
22. Streets Of Laredo
Added: December 23rd 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
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